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David Ogilvy - Marketing Master

Wednesday, September 24, 2009

NEW YORK -- 38-year old unemployed college dropout becomes one of the most sought-after copywriters and advertising men in history

Ogilvy on Advertising

David Ogilvy was the man behind the famous "Man in the Hathaway Shirt", "Commander Whitehead", and "At 60 MPH, The Loudest Noise In This Rolls-Royce Comes From The Electric Clock" campaigns
Confessions of an Advertising Man
Ogilvy on Advertising
The Art of Writing Advertising by Denis Higgins

He was 38 years old -- and unemployed.

He was a college dropout. He has been a cook, a door-to-door oven salesman, a diplomatist and a farmer.

He knew nothing about marketing and had never written any copy. He professes to be interested in advertising

Yet, he became one of the most revered marketing minds in the world.

He helped to establish modern advertising with his big ideas. He produced many of the world's most famous and sophisticated ad campaigns. His style, wit and convictions helped mold an industry.

But most importantly, he knew how to sell. His copy followed the basic rules of advertising: research and position the product, develop a brand image, build culture, and have a big idea.

Here's the story:

David Ogilvy was born in West Horsely, England on June 23, 1911.

But he did not graduate from Oxford; as he put it years later, he "got thrown out." He called this "the real failure of my life."

After Oxford, Ogilvy went to Paris, where he worked in the kitchen of the Hotel Majestic.

When Ogilvy returned to Britain, he worked as a door-to-door salesman for Aga Cookers. He sold stoves to nuns, drunkards and everyone in between. In 1935 he wrote a guide for Aga salesmen that Fortune later called "probably the best sales manual ever written."

And in 1936, his older brother Francis got David an internship at the London ad agency Mather & Crowley.

David Ogilvy immigrated to the United States in 1938. He became associate director of George Gallup's Audience Research Institute in Princeton, New Jersey.

During World War II, he worked with British Security Coordination and served as second secretary to the British Embassy in Washington. After the war, Ogilvy lived among the Amish in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and worked as a farmer.

But he thought he could never earn his living as a farmer, so at the age of 38, he decided to start his own advertising agency.

Once again, he went to brother Francis for assistance. S. H. Benson Ltd., another London shop, also invested $45,000, but insisted that Ogilvy, who had been out of advertising for 10 years, hire someone who knew how to run an agency. Ogilvy chose Anderson Hewitt, an accountant he had met briefly in 1941. The business opened as Hewitt, Ogilvy, Benson & Mather (HOB&M).

One of the first ads he wrote as the head of his own agency was "Guinness Guide to Oysters".

Ogilvy always stressed that "every advertisement must contribute to the complex symbol which is the Brand Image".

Brand Image meant the personality of the product -- a combination of its name, packaging, price, its advertising style, the nature of the product, etc.

An ad campaign, Ogilvy said, must always revolve around a sharply defined personality -- a coherent image that you must stick to year after year.

In 1951, a small shirtmaker, C. F. Hathaway, came asking for help. This led Ogilvy to create the image of a man with the black eye patch, and "The Man in The Hathaway Shirt" campaign was born. This narrative, creative campaign ran for 25 years.

For Schweppes, Ogilvy persuaded the client, Commander Whitehead, to appear in his own advertisements. The campaign featuring the distinguished looking, bearded Brit in various ads and commercials ran for eighteen years.

For Rolls-Royce, he used the headline, "At 60 Miles An Hour The Loudest Noise In This New Rolls-Royce Comes From The Electric Clock". This remains the most famous automobile advertisement of all time.

By 1960 he had achieved his ambition to run a great agency that spread around the globe and firmly in place as one of the top agencies in all regions.

In 1965, Ogilvy dropped his title of chairman of what had become Ogilvy & Mather's U.S. operations (remaining chairman of O&M International - OMI) to become creative director - a position he kept for nearly 10 years, before "retiring" to Touffou, in 1973.

Ogilvy came out of retirement in the 1980s to serve as Chairman of Ogilvy&Mather in India. He also spent a year acting as temporary chairman of Ogilvy&Mather Germany. He visited branches of the company around the world and continued to present Ogilvy&Mather at gathering clients and business audiences.

When in 1989, Ogilvy group was brought buy WPP, two events occurred simultaneously: WPP became the largest Marketing communications firm in the world, and David Ogilvy was named the company's non-executive chairman, a position he held for 3 years.

Ogilvy died on July 1999 at his home in Touffou, France.

Since I study all the great marketing and advertising gurus from the past for a living, you can guess I know what works and what doesn't . But there is only one that has made me serious money. Click here to see who.

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